[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hree years ago, I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Dinara Ermakova, we met at an event in Kazan, Russia and because she spoke very good English we connected easily and became friends, we talked about how we wanted to travel round world and since then she has been traveling the globe ever since. She is from Kazakhstan and currently in Uruguay on a trip and that’s her 47th country, she also recently finished her double masters from MIT and University of Calgary. During her travels her interest and proficiency in photography has grown, with over 47 countries under her belt and always a trusty camera at her side, lets see the world through her words and lens.
Remember, that you will never have enough time and money to travel, just do it
How did your passion for travel started?
I think that people saying they do not like traveling traveled with wrong people or just were afraid to leave their comfort zone, because it’s human nature to discover new places, find new friends and have a wide perspective of the world. And being passionate about traveling and adventures is in our blood.Well OK my Blood 🙂
My story begins way back to the time when my father, a Naval officer then had to change our locations quite frequently once there is a new military order. While I was 6 months old we moved to the city called Linakhamari in Russia, which is above the Polar circle. I did not understand much at that time but yeah, I think this movements made this adventurous me today. The real understanding of me wanting to see more of the world came on a New Year Eve in 1996, when my Grandfather returned from his business trip to Paris and Berlin.
I did not have a Barbie doll, the choice of toys at that time was not as much as today. It came as a surprise gift from my Grandpa. He brought it from Berlin with milky chocolates and some other toys from Paris. You can imagine what I have felt at that moment, being just 5 years old. I haven’t heard much about Berlin, but it seemed to me not a city but a huge market with everything for kids. In that same moment, on December 31-st I really felt that one day I will visit “that” same market.
Time passed, I traveled with my mum, with relatives, but it was not as attractive as it should be. Usually, when you travel with your parents you do not have much to choose, you just have to follow their agenda, attend guided tours and stay humble because parents pay :).
The real trip, my own trip was a part of Work & Travel summer. This changed my entire life. After saving some money I started my own trip to united States, and yes, I loved it. I met so many amazing people who tried to help me and to know more about my country that they had no idea about before meeting me, or what do you know about KAZAKHSTAN :)?
Further my life looked like a permanent discovery of any kind of exchanges abroad, any chances to obtain my degree in other countries or just to save money to see the places I haven’t been to. So far, I have been to 5 continents and hundreds of cities.
Why does the word “ADVENTURE ” means to you?
Adventure is a life. Every day is an adventure, you never know what is gonna happen to you tomorrow and you cannot deny this fact.
For me adventure is a discovery of something new, do the crazy (in a good way) things, visiting the new locations hidden from the tourists, have just 5$ (2000Naira) for the next 3 days and survive with it :). Adventure is to learn words from absolutely different language, learn how to bake local pie , meeting a total new cultural shock , to see the shark while diving and hug a koala on the tree.
Which is of them is your favorite and why?
The ones I haven’t visited yet lol. Really, I am so in love with photos of countries I haven’t been to. I want to visit them one day, not all at once of course 🙂
Kazakhstan is special for me because my relatives and many friends live there, but still it is a underestimated beautiful country. For sure I will spend some time traveling there. Better to say that the more you travel the more you realize that every piece of land has its own background, character and charm, even a tiny village has so many stories to tell you and I cannot pick one country, city and say that I love it the most.
I spent so much time abroad so I even cannot say which country is so good for me tha I could leave everything and move there for the rest of my life. At least for now I am not ready to say it. Almost everywhere I feel like home.
What have you learn from traveling over the years ?
Because of people’s prejudices we are still afraid of visiting new countries: we say things like “oh it will be too expensive, may be unsafe and useless” etc. When I decided to go to Uganda and Kenya, many people were so shocked because they had bias opinions about Africa in general. But in fact in Kenya and Uganda I met the kindest people in my life, people who made me feel like I was at home with family, people, who showed me the real beauty of their countries not just a commercial route designed for tourists.
I also learnt that there is always a way out of any hardship. At some point your will just meet people who are able to help you and please, do not hesitate to ask. Nobody will kill you for this.
There is always a better way to spend your money. Think twice if you are feeling that you are becoming a victim of advertisement. Manage your budget if you still think that traveling is expensive, I am pretty sure that you can sell half of your closet to save some money, or you just do not need iPhone, iPod and iPad at the same time, save your money gradually, or even monthly and before the year ends you are rich enough to have a new travel experience.
I believe boarders, countries, nations were created to divide people, make them fight against each other, it is just easier to take control over the mass. People are the same all over the world, some of them kind, some of them rude, some of them greedy, some of them generous, some of them helpful, some of them not. Just do not think that people in one country is worse that in other. All of them want to be safe, have food and friends. This is the motivation of any action.
Always remember that you are your country’s ambassador and you represent a lot about it , especially if you are from small nation or almost unknown country like mine.
How much has traveling changed your view of the world?
Let me just say that 6 years ago I was absolutely a different person. Today I can speak 5 languages (Russian, Spanish, French, English and Kazakh(my native language).
I have friends all over the world and have so many stories to tell people, like I am doing just right now.
Also, being in a long trip means that you are far away from your family, I learn to appreciate every moment spent with my little brother, relatives and friends.
What are some interesting places in cities and countries you’ve traveled to?
While you can still visit socialistic Cuba, please do! It is worth to see the way people live there, try cheap pizzas on the streets (locals will show you) and ride a colorful car. Trinidad is a city of dance and party, just do not miss it.
I would recommend to do scuba diving or snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef, ski in Shimbulak in winter.
I would like to do a trip through Central Asia, so I recommend everyone to see these places while there are not much tourists.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Is Traveling cheap or on a budget possible especially for international trips, if yes how?
It is possible and I am an example of a budget traveler. And here is how I am able to low down my traveling cost:
a)The most expensive part is usually the tickets. You are better to take them in advance. If it is a last minute travel you can check charters for popular destinations, spend miles or just accept the price.
b) Try to find alternative route using the bus or carpooling service if you have enough time. Especially it is helpful in Europe, because countries are close to each other, so no need to fly a lot.
c) Overnight bus or train can save you time and money for the hotel but the bus is the least comfortable transport. There are comfortable buses in Argentina that have beds and you can have a nice trip to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires in case if the flight tickets are already expensive.
d) In every popular city there is a free walking tour, which is based on tips. Within 2-3 hours you can get basic information about history of the city, information about main touristic spots and get a sense of the city if you did not do a homework before you came to the city. This is what I usually do, just take a morning tour and after that go to explore non-touristic area, meet with Couchsurfers.
Just remember, that it is always nice to take your host out or bring some food do the house you are being hosted. I usually carry couple of magnets from my country for the people who help me on my way.
f) Try to find a travel mate. It is always easier to travel in a group of 2-3 people. In Cuba you can save a lot of money on housing (Couchsurfing is basically forbidden there) because the room usually has 2-3 beds and if you are alone you still will have to pay full price for the whole room.
g) Try to ask locals where to eat. Usually good and cheap restaurants with local food are hidden away from tourists, a little bit further from the center of just do not have a huge add near it. But this is how the budget traveling works, you always have to do a research.
On the way to the Boiling lake in Dominica. Do not get confused with Dominican Republic, they are different countries.
Airports always tell a huge story about a new city, what airport were you really fascinated about and why?
Well, I can barely remember any airport I have arrived to but I spent so much time in Aeropuerto Madrid Barajas. When I was an exchange student in Spain I used to travel from Madrid to different European countries. Usually the flights were early in the morning and the public transport does not work at night, to save money on housing and transport I spent night before flights at the Airport. I have seen many strikes, lovers from different countries saying goodbye and youngsters sleeping on the floor of the airport to be on time for the flight and save money.
Also, I liked the airport of Helsinki as one of the most organized, clean and logic airports.
In conclusion I’d like to say that traveling is not a remedy, is not the way you can run from the problems. Traveling is the better way of studying yourself, finding friends, knowing your weaknesses and how to deal with them when you have nobody to help you.
Remember, that you will never have enough time and money to travel, just do it. While you are young you have better chance to see the real world. The older you get, the more comfort you need, the less time but the more responsibilities you have.
Ajala is an African version of what Europe had -Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, James Cook, and Marco Polo, Asia had its Ibn Battuta and Zheng He and Africa had OLABISI AJALA. A very Nigerian man at heart and a proud African in soul, Ajala shattered all records of travel, voyaging into lands that no black person had ever seen not to talk of setting their feet there. Ajala had the world in hands, based on this we shall be naming this column in his memory. Watch this space!